Geoffrey de Marisco

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XIX

The King's foreign advisers determined to destroy their great enemy as speedily as possible. Their plain was deeply laid. They despatched letters to Ireland, signed by twelve privy counsellors, requiring the Viceroy and barons to seize his castles, bribing them with a promise of a share in his lands. The wily Anglo-Normans demanded a charter, specifying which portion of his property each individual should have. They obtained the document, signed with the royal seal, which had been purloined for the occasion from the Chancellor. The Anglo-Normans acted with detestable dissimulation. Geoffrey de Marisco tried to worm himself into the confidence of the man on whose destruction he was bent. On the 1st of April, 1232, a conference was arranged to take place on the Curragh of Kildare. The Viceroy was accompanied by De Lacy, De Burgo, and a large number of soldiers and mercenaries. The Earl was attended by a few knights and the false De Marisco. He declined to comply with the demands of the barons, who refused to restore his castles.

The treacherous De Marisco withdrew from him at this moment, and he suddenly found himself overpowered by numbers. With the thoughtfulness of true heroism, he ordered some of his attendants to hasten away with his young brother, Walter. Nearly all his retainers had been bribed to forsake him in the moment of danger; and now that the few who obeyed his last command were gone, he had to contend single-handed with the multitude. His personal bravery was not a little feared, and the coward barons, who were either afraid or ashamed to attack him individually, urged on their soldiers, until he was completely surrounded. The Earl laid prostrate six of his foes, clove one knight to the middle, and struck off the hands of another, before he was captured. At last the soldiers aimed at the feet of his spirited steed, until they were cut off, and by this piece of cruelty brought its rider to the ground. A treacherous stab from behind, with a long knife, plunged to the haft in his back, completed the bloody work.

The Earl was borne off, apparently lifeless, to one of his own castles, which had been seized by the Viceroy. It is said that even his surgeon was bribed to prevent his recovery. Before submitting his wounds to the necessary treatment, he prepared for death, and received the last sacraments. He died calmly and immediately, clasping a crucifix, on Palm Sunday, the sixteenth day after his treacherous capture. And thus expired the "flower of chivalry," and the grandson of Strongbow, the very man to whom England owed so much of her Irish possessions.